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The Victorian Mallee township of Birchip again came alive with the annual Sharp’s Bakery Mallee Bull Harness Racing Cup on Sunday afternoon - the one and only meeting conducted by the club for the season. And according to official gate-taking figures, the small township’s population doubled for the day with nearly 1200 people in attendance. “It was an absolutely magnificent day, both on and off the track,” club President Max Dillon said. “We race on an 805-metre track, but the crowd is so close to the action, so the atmosphere for the whole eight event meeting was unreal,” Dillon said. It was a day of highlights, with the track record was equalled and on-course tote holdings up by several thousand dollars. According to Dillon, much of the credit for the cup meeting’s success goes to the enthusiastic 24-member committee, more than half of whom are aged under 35 years.  They’re also backed up by a committed band of voluntary helpers, sponsors and supporters. “The whole town actually gets behind the meeting and it’s probably our biggest social event of the calendar,” he said. “We had six marquees with one involving 100 family and friends celebrating the 50th birthday of Darren Cozens, while another was a school reunion group. “The children had plenty to choose from with a giant slide, jumping castle, animal farm, pony rides and face painting.” Sponsors tipped in more than $18,000 and that certainly created a pathway for a wonderful meeting which saw the 32nd running of the Cup. (L-R) Birchip Harness Racing Club secretary Brad Sharp and president Max Dillon present the Mallee Bull trophy to Leon Mulquinney, who accepted on behalf of connections.  This was the third consecutive year the Mallee Bull Cup had been staged at the Birchip paceway after being hosted at neighboring tracks such as Charlton and Swan Hill for the previous decade. Lancefield-based reinsman Rodney Petroff won the cup for the second time since racing resumed at Birchip, with a masterful driving exhibition on Dunrobbin (We Will See USA-Rayanne’s Phoenix (Live Or Die USA). The gelding, prepared by Mark Thompson, was sent out a $6.40 chance. Petroff previously won the feature event in 2017 with Regal Ambition, trained at Bendigo by former Birchip resident, Gary Donaldson. After some quick early splits in Sunday’s Cup, Petroff found himself third-last, but didn’t flinch a muscle until coming to get the bell. He worked out three wide but was quick to slot into the one-one for a breather down the back straight. With 400 metres to go, Petroff released the handbrake and Dunrobbin swept to the front to record a nice win over Top The Ace and John Richard. The mile rate of 2.00-6 was a whisker outside the track record. Driving honors for the day went to Ballarat junior concession driver James Herbertson with a winning treble. Herbertson is enjoying a purple patch at present and horses certainly appear to run for him. Racegoers were asked to contribute a gold-coin donation to the Team Teal fundraiser – the result was a $1600 donation to the Team Teal coffers Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Trafalgar trotter Sovereign Minx scored an impressive victory at the Warragul race meeting staged on Wednesday afternoon.   Sovereign Minx led throughout to win the Drouin Signs Trotters Handicap, where three of the six starters galloped during the race. The field was spread out over 180 metres as the winner crossed the finish line.   Despite half the field making mistakes, nothing should be taken away from the win of Sovereign Minx, a four-year-old mare scoring her second victory at start 20.   She trotted faultlessly throughout for driver Rod Petroff, and carved out solid sectional times throughout the 2210 metre event.   Sovereign Minx controlled the speed to suit in front, picking up the tempo at the 1200 metre mark, and running her rival ragged in the process. Trainer Chris Hunter said after the event the plan was to find the lead and not give it away in Wednesday's race, as his horse appreciates being allowed to roll along in front.   Sovereign Minx winning at Warragul last Wednesday  - Matt Walker Photography   Trotting followers will note that Sovereign Minx produced below 30 second sectionals for the last three quarters of a mile in Wednesday's race, a very good effort for a maiden trotter and one that will give Hunter every confidence that he can win further races.   The four-year-old is out of a former smart pacer the Hunter family raced, named Golden Teardrops, however Sovereign Minx now has the score on the board as a trotting, as opposed to her dam.   Hunter's son Glenn drove Mota Mate to win the fourth race of the day for Cranbourne horseman Hugh Cathels.   Fellow local four-year-old So Much Bettor scored his second win on end at Warragul when a narrow winner in the second race of the day.   Two drivers, Glen Craven (Hail Georgie) and Jack Laugher (Lady Flora) notched up their first career winning drives at Warragul during the day, while former Kiwi mare Sumthin Special scored her second win on end for trainer Rob O'Connell and driver Zac Phillips.   Premier horseman Gavin Lang collected the last two winners, My Kiwi Lady and My Cash, to extend his lead in the Warragul drivers' premiership.     Kyle Galley

Kyvalley Blur's blistering burst for a third straight salute highlighted a night for the stoic standies at Tabcorp Park, when the average age of winning horses was 6 years and two months. With Gusto broke his metropolitan maiden status at age nine and start 115 for trainer Graeme Dalton and owner Leigh Graham, seven-year-old Our Twentyten toughed out his second career metropolitan win and stablemates Kyvalley Blur (10-year-old) and Keystone Del (11) finished one-two in the Aldebaran Park Melton Trotters Free For All. "He's really in the zone at the moment," reinsman Chris Alford told Trots Vision post Kyvalley Blur's Group 3 win. "He got a good run and good trail up, but he finished really well and did it easy tonight. While he's racing like this he will be hard to beat any time he goes out." The champion reinsman, whose record-smashing season win total stands at 423, also steered With Gusto to his maiden metropolitan victory when he held the front with the It Is I gelding and recorded a 2.5m victory, getting home in 27.4. "We broke seven for the lead, which is pretty quick, and we then got to back it off a bit so he was good then. He's racing with a lot of confidence, winning those two claimers gave him the heart to kick on up the straight." Our Twentyten, who turns eight when the calendar ticks into spring, "got reward for effort" according to reinsman Rodney Petroff, whose victory with the Muscles Yankee trotter was the first of a running double. "He's been going very well," Petroff said. "He just made his own luck tonight and it turned out the right result. He's always thereabouts, he's run that many seconds in good country cups, it's just very good for the horse and the owners to get a win tonight."   Michael Howard for The Trots

Check out the winning harness racing drivers’ immediate reactions after their success at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Jodi Quinlan and Lauren Tritton both picked up a winning double, while Michael Stanley continued his run of form with two-year-old fillies by taking out the Tatlow Stakes aboard Soho Angel. Rodney Petroff won the Seelite Windows and Doors Winter Trotters Cup Final aboard Our Twentyten, the dual Breeders Crown winner defeating Blue Sky Commander and Sky Petite, who are both talented four-year-olds. See the winning driver interviews here Trots Media

Some harness racing people might say Our Twentyten is a tad underrated. The dual Breeders Crown winner paid $10.10 on the Victorian tote tonight defeating Blue Sky Commander ($2fav) and Sky Petite ($3.30) in the Seelite Windows and Doors Winter Trotters Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton. Afterwards trainer Brent Lilley declared more Breeders Crown riches were being sought with the Breeders Crown Open a target. Steered to perfection by Rodney Petroff, who has developed a great affinity with the son of Muscles Yankee/Regal Volo, Our Twentyten got his head in front right at the wire in the 2240-metre race. Petroff drove confidently out of the gate, pushing through a gap from a back-row draw before working to the breeze and eventually grabbing one-one cover when Sky Petite (Steven Duffy) obliged. Miracle set the tempo despite an outside-front-row draw, Josh Duggan taking the gelding to the front where he reeled off 31.4, 32.1 and 28.4 splits between the mile and the quarter pole. VIDEO REPLAY: Our Twentyten takes out the Winter Trotters Cup Sky Petite and Blue Sky Commander (Kerryn Manning) placed bold bids for victory approaching the home turn but they must have heard Our Twentyten’s hoof beats in hot pursuit. Blue Sky Commander got the better of Sky Petite at the 100m, but Our Twentyten made up the required half-length he needed to get the win inside the final 50m. “He’ll have to meet the better performed horses in the Breeders Crown but he got it (the Breeders Crown) as a three- and four-year-old,” Lilley said. His winning mile rate tonight was 1:59.3, the last quarter covered in 29secs. Blue Sky Commander was gutsy in second, while Sky Petite hung on for third just ahead of Lightning Calder and Savannah Jay Jay. Cody Winnell

Further heats of the Australasian Breeders Crown were run at the harness racing meeting at Maryborough today and in the second heat for the two year old trotting colts/geldings, two of the favourites for the final faced up to each other. Sundon's Courage drew beautifully at barrier one but was slow off the arm and that let his main danger Conon Bridge with trainer Paul Nairn in the sulky fly the gate from barrier five and grab an early lead. No sooner had he got there, Conon Bridge was attacked by War Dan Destroyer and Rodney Petroff and the two matched strides for a wee way before War Dan Destroyer worked to the front. Paul Nairn had Conon Bridge back out straight away and quickly regained the front.   In the meantime Sundon's Courage had worked into the one by one following the well supported runner, Charlie Runkle. A quiet mid section of the race left Conon Bridge with plenty of petrol in the tank before upping the tempo with a 30.6 quarter down the back before breezing home in 28.3 for a very impressive win. Sundons Courage peeled three wide at the 400 metres mark and although he made inroads into Conon Bridge's lead, he was never a real threat to the winner. Conon Bridge trotted the 2190 metres from the mobile in 2:47.7, a mile rate of 2:03.3 with closing sectionals of 58.9 and 28.3 These two were a class above the opposition in their heat and along with Cruisin Around who won the first heat today, they look the three leading chances in the final in the colts/geldings section. Harnesslink Media

It didn’t take long to realise harness racing trainer Brent Lilley might be in for a good night at Tabcorp Park Melton. But not many could have predicted just how well the script would play out for the Bolinda horseman, who walked away from tonight's Trotters Oaks meeting with five wins – including the two feature races. It all began with five-year-old Live Or Die/Trustee Mota gelding Crusader Acey, who showed his last-start win at Shepparton was no fluke with victory in the DNR Logistics Pace over 1720m to open the program. From barrier seven reinsman Anthony Butt produced a carbon copy of his steer aboard Hollywood Sign last month when it won the Rising Stars Final, driving Crusader Acey across the field early to find the pegs before handing up to the favourite, Macho Comacho. Crusader Acey out-sprinted Macho Comacho late along the sprint lane to win by a neck in a mile rate of 1:54.1. Lilley notched a winning double in the fourth race with five-year-old Monarchy/Sun Mist mare Rosemma. The foolproof trotter dashed to the lead early from barrier five for Rodney Petroff, while stablemate and race favourite Kyvalley Pink blew its chances by galloping away. Rosemma rated 2:00.7 to hold off a fast-finishing Mister Independent by 1.1m in the Garrards Horse and Hount Trot. Lilley and Butt then snared Race 7, the Pace ,with impressive gelding Lets Elope (by Real Desire out of Alta Vista), finding the lead from barrier two before staving off all comers at the finish. Lets Elope carved out splits of 30.4secs, 29.8secs, 28.5secs and 27.6secs, clocking a 1:56.4 mile rate. Punters backed Lilley and Butt in to do it again in Race 8, the night’s feature, the $60,505 Group 1 Noel Simpson Memorial Trotters Oaks. Favourite backers were grinning 2mins and 47secs after the mobile arms folded back, My Arya leading from start to finish to register a 3m win over Amarula with Little Miss Zigzag flashing home for third. The Angus Hall filly held out an early challenge from Fiery Mountain Girl to lead before getting away with a 61.3secs first half at the head of affairs. She upped the tempo down the back the last time and took the zing out of any chasers with a 28secs third quarter. Sprinting home in 29.8secs, My Arya never looked like being headed and has now won 10 of her 11 Australian starts. Her winning mile rate for tonight’s 2240m trip was 2:00.4. Lilley and Butt capped the night in Race 9 by taking out the Pryde’s Easifeed Tatlow Stakes for two-year-old trotters with Kyvalley Tinman. The son of Majestic Son/Kyvalley Kitty sat on the speed in the run before out-staying his rivals, quickly getting the better of early leader Calder Knight turning for home before seeing off a late charge by impressive filly Princess Phoenix for a 1.3m win in 2:04.2 for the 2240m journey. While Lilley made the headlines with five winners, Butt’s performance should be undersold, finishing with a metropolitan quartet of his own. In other results, Aldebaran Macha easily took out the Good Form Pace over 2240m for David and Josh Aiken, the son of Mach Three/Aldebaran Bromac too good for runner-up Hez The Wild Card in 1:56.2. Anton Golino and Todd McCarthy took out the Group 2 Bacardi Lindy Mares Trot with rising star Arboe, who held off Vics Cheval at the finish by 3.2m. Arboe, by Love You out of Lough Neagh, has now won five of six starts and has genuine star power. Arboe rated 1:59.0 over the 2240m, Claudys Princess finishing third beaten 13.2m by the winner. Bringing up a double for Todd McCarthy was Glenferrie Hood, a pacer making a name for himself in Victoria with two straight wins here. The son of Christian Cullen/Niftey Franco found the lead from gate seven early and ran along to record a mile rate of 1:53.7, defeating Sapphire Swayze by 3.6m with Im Barney Rubble third. Shes A Runa notched her 16th win at start No.27 by taking out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship Final for trainer Amanda Turnbull and driver Nathan Jack. The Jeremes Jet/Runacullen mare, a four-year-old, was 7.3m too strong for Gollahman, while in-form Ithappenstobeametro stuck on gamely for third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:55.5. Trainer Dean Braun looks to have another star on his hands in the form of Wardwell, who won tonight’s Pegasus Club 3YO Pace Final over 2240m. The gelding by Mach Three out of Ohappy Daze won by 7.4m over Starwyn Jasper with Brighty Valentine third in a rate of 1:59.0. Wardwell has now won three from three and bigger races look on his agenda moving forward. David Miles and his talented four-year-old Smokey Quartz capped the night with a gutsy success over Masterofthurles, that pair racing well clear of third placegetter Thunder Fee in the last race, the 2Construct Pace Final over 1720m. Smokey Quartz and Masterofthurles were involved in a speed war early, the latter eventually holding up and Smokey Quartz dropping to the leader’s back. From there Smokey Quartz eventually got out, rounded up the early pace setter and went on to score by 2.8m in a rate of 1:56.4. Smokey Quartz is a son of the great Courage Under Fire out of Pareen. View replays of all tonight's races and get full results by Cody Winnell

Kialla trainer-driver David Moran enjoyed a winning double with two of his in-form pacers last night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Both The Baggy Green (a four-year-old mare by Art Major out of Lady Waratah) and Our Santa Catalina (a three-year-old filly by Rocknroll Hanover out of San Sophia) carried their strong Breeders Crown form into last night's meeting and both recorded strong victories. The Baggy Green, who ran second to Frith in the four-year-old mares’ Breeders Crown Final last time out, found the back of early leader Earth Angel last night used the sprint lane at the finish to wind up for a 2.3-metre victory in the Alabar Pace, Race 1, over 1720 metres. Earth Angel led for Josh Aiken with Isabelle Delacour (Jason Lee) parking in the breeze after a failed attack for the front. Glenferrie EJ (Jodi Quinlan) ran second after a sustained run three-wide, while Earth Angel boxed on gamely for third. The Baggy Green started at $2.20, kicking the night off on a winning note for punters. Moran’s second winner came up in Race 4, the Harness Breeders Vic 3YO Classic over 1720 metres. He drove Our Santa Catalina, who scored an upset win over last-start Group 1 winner Just Cala (Amanda Turnbull) by 1.8 metres, with Madison Louise (Chris Alford) third. With 1200 metres to go Moran and Our Santa Catalina eased three-wide from the one-out-one-back spot and moved to the breeze outside race leader Dazzling Arden. At this stage Turnbull had the $1.40 favourite Just Cala in last position. Down the back, though, Turnbull started her move, taking the Dennis Picker trained filly around the field three-wide. But the leaders quickened up with middle sectionals of 29.9 and 28.4, Just Cala forced to work hard for the bulk of the final lap. Once the field straightened up for the run to the judge, Our Santa Catalina shook off Dazzling Arden and then hit the line in a 27.8 final quarter. Just Cala simply didn’t have the firepower at the finish as Our Santa Catalina – who ran third in a Breeders Crown semi-final at Ballarat two starts back – showed enormous grit in the run to the line. Our Santa Catalina has now won seven of 20 starts. Leading reinsman Nathan Jack was the other driver to pick up a winning double last night, piloting Bad Habbott to a 2.7-metre triumph in the Home Timber and Hardware Melton 3YO Trot for trainer Russell Commens before finishing the program aboard Shared Interest, the Russell Jack trained gelded son of Angus Hall obliterating his rivals by 18.1 metres in the Haley Toulmin 2YO Trot over 1720 metres. Other winners on the card were Action Kosmos for Geoff Webster and Emmett Brosnan in the Trot and Game We Play in the Empire Stallions 3YO Pace Final for trainer-driver Craig Turnbull, the son of Courage Under Fire too strong as the long odds-on favourite in the race Karkarooc who finished a well-beaten seventh. In-form mare Tandias Bromac won the Pet Rock Pace for trainer Amanda Grieve and driver Chris Alford while the Michael Stanley trained and driven Young Modern won the Woodlands Stud Pace over 1720 metres. Gumdrops won for trainer Steve Zammit and driver Rodney Petroff in the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 Sept Pace, and the Chris Lang trained and driven Lord Liam won the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap. The Victorian harness racing spotlight turns to Cranbourne tonight (Saturday) with the first of 11 races at 5.35pm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Reinsman Rodney Petroff nailed the tactics aboard Zedalite to win the Vulcan Trotters Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Petroff took the Brent Lilley trained five-year-old gelding straight to the front from gate three and refused to hand up to Josh Aiken aboard the short-priced favourite, My High Expectations, in the 1720-metre feature event. The pair, who punters favoured with My High Expectations starting $1.50 favourite and Zedalite the second pick at $4.20, sat one-two for the bulk of the race but Petroff’s charge had the upper hand. In the finish My High Expectations loomed large late and almost got level with the early pacesetter in the final 200 metres, but Petroff lifted Zedalite to a memorable half-head win. Zedalite has been a terrific money-spinner for connections and last night’s success was his 22nd career win from 75 starts. The son of Zooma stopped the clock at 1:58.1 for the mile rate. Stoned I Am ran on at the finish to grab third for Simone Walker, while Lightning Joy was fourth for Gavin Lang. Earlier in the night Inky Cullen bounced back to winning form after some out-of-character efforts with a win in the Tabcorp Park Melton Claiming Pace. The Amanda Grieve trained five-year-old scored a three-metre win over stablemate Catch Your Breath; Alex Ashwood driving the winner and Chris Alford piloting the second horse. Other Melton winners were Palais Du Louvre for Leigh Miles and Scott Dyer in the first race, Smiling High for David Aiken and Nathan Jack in Race 2, El Paco for Joe Attard in Race 4, Keayang Cullen for Marg Lee and Jason Lee in Race 5, Goodtime Mike for Emma Stewart and Alford in Race 6, Im Barney Rubble for Lance Justice and Brian Gath in Race 7, and The Majestic for John Newberry in Race 9. The early quaddie paid $520.30 on the numbers 9-5-9-8, while the traditional quaddie paid $1453 on a 1-2-10-3 combination. Don't forget tomorrow's guaranteed $200,000 quaddie pool at Ballarat for semi-final night of the rich Breeders Crown Series. Details at the TAB website. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

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